by Blaine Payer ’18
It has been 13 years since the video game heroine Lara Croft of Tomb Raider graced movie screens, and fans of the beloved franchise are ready to see one of pop culture’s most iconic characters come to life once again.
Although a spandex-clad Angelina Jolie comes to mind when one thinks of Croft, Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander has accepted the challenge of filling her predecessor’s tank top, and has not disappointed thus far. If the new full-length trailer can tell fans anything, it is that Croft appears to be back and better than ever, and yes—she is packing heat.
The Tomb Raider video game series first debuted in 1996 on a personal computer, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn platform to wide acclaim. The premise is simple: Lara Croft, an archaeologist and the titular Tomb Raider, goes on Indiana Jones-inspired adventures trying to find artifacts in ancient tombs and ruins.
In Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 reboot, the video game introduced Trinity, an evil organization attempting to locate and acquire the artifacts that Croft’s father discovered in order to use their supernatural powers to rule the world. The 2013 reboot is where the new film picks up, with Vikander playing a younger Croft embarking on her first adventure.
“Lara Croft was the financial benchmark of success,” William Wilson of Forbes Magazine reports, “Tomb Raider was the first video game film to prove that the genre can be profitable and that female driven characters work.” The original Jolie project, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, raked in an impressive $274 million at the box office, setting off a chain of video game-to-film projects like Resident Evil (2002), Doom (2005), and Silent Hill (2006).
Recently, however, film adaptations based on videogames have performed poorly among critics and audiences alike. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed underperformed at the box office and was met with an abysmal 18 percent score on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics thus far appear optimistic about the franchise reboot, with some noting that Warner Brothers are taking the film down the same path they went with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.
They took a well-known character—Batman— with a sturdy fan base and portrayed him in a more serious, action/drama light uncharacteristic of previous portrayals of superheroes. When viewed against the backdrop of 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a campy action/adventure flick, the new film looks bigger, badder, and generally more dramatic than its predecessor.
A difference that many critics and fans have noted between the first look at Vikander’s Croft and Jolie’s, as well as the direction of the video game reboot, is that the new Croft has become less of a sex symbol and more of a tried and true action heroine.
Vikander, who has a notably different look than Jolie, one of Hollywood’s most iconic sex symbols, has traded in Croft’s spandex short-shorts for a smart pair of loose cargo pants. She also appears to be more proficient in using her hands, crafting weapons, and performing death-defying stunts, like jumping off the wing of an airplane onto the precarious perch of a nearby cliff.
Fans need not worry, however. Although Croft’s look and style has changed, she still would not be caught dead without her trademark pistols, which Vikander kindly informs the gun salesman that she will take two of, paying homage to the 1996 video game cover.
Has Hollywood found a new female action star in Vikander, or will Tomb Raider meet a fate that has plagued so many video game adaptations in years past? Audiences can find out when Tomb Raider is released in June 2018.